May 31, 2012

Positive Thinking and Your Health

Posted in Health, Healthy Habits, Healthy Living at 4:56 PM by lanaholt

We choose our thoughts, whether positive or negative. Positive or negative thinking starts with self-talk. Self-talk is the endless stream of mind chatter that run through your head every day.

Health benefits that positive thinking may provide include:

-Longer life
-Less depression
-Less distress
-Stronger immune system
-A feeling of psychological and physical well-being
-Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
-Better coping skills during hard times

It’s not clear why people who are positive experience health benefits. One theory is that having a positive outlook enables you to cope better with stressful situations, which reduces the harmful health effects of stress on your body. It’s also thought that positive people tend to live healthier lifestyles — they

get more physical activity, follow a healthier diet, and don’t smoke or drink alcohol in excess.

Focusing on positive thinking

You can learn to turn negative thinking into positive thinking. The process is simple, but it does take time and practice. You’re creating a new habit. Here are some ways to think and behave in a more positive and optimistic way:

-Identify areas to change. If you want to become more optimistic and engage in more positive thinking, first identify areas of your life that you typically think negatively about.
-Check yourself. Periodically during the day, stop and evaluate what you’re thinking. If you find that your thoughts are mainly negative, try to find a way to put a positive spin on them.
-Be open to humor. Give yourself permission to smile or laugh, especially during difficult times. Seek humor in everyday happenings. When you can laugh at life, you feel less stressed.
-Follow a healthy lifestyle. Exercise at least three times a week to positively affect mood and reduce stress. Follow a healthy diet to fuel your mind and body. And learn to manage stress.
-Surround yourself with positive people. Make sure those in your life are positive, supportive people you can depend on to give helpful advice and feedback. Negative people increase your stress level and make you doubt your ability to manage stress in healthy ways.
-Practice positive self-talk. Start by following one simple rule: Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to anyone else. Be gentle and encouraging with yourself.
-Spend a few minutes a day acknowledging your worries in a tangible way. Creating a list of your top 10 worries or a calendar of stressful upcoming events allows you to strategize and deal with each problem directly, so they don’t balloon to an unmanageable size.
-Deep belly breathing. Whether in a yoga class, at the office, or on your couch, deep breathing is helpful in interrupting irrational thoughts. If you frequently experience toxic worry, try carrying a balloon in your pocket. Blowing up a balloon forces you to take long, slow breaths from the diaphragm, which slows down your heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and helps your body use oxygen more efficiently, having a calming effect.

If you tend to have a negative outlook, don’t expect to become an optimist overnight. With practice, eventually your self-talk will contain less self-criticism and more self-acceptance and your body and mind will thank you.

sources Mayo Clinic and Dr. Oz

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